Skip to main content

tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  June 25, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

6:30 pm
the parents are grateful, they hope this means the children will grow up playing with toys instead of guns. al jazeera, southern philippines there is plenty more news, click on aljazeera.com. inner section of hardware and humanity, and we're doing it in an unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. tonight "techknow" investigates
6:31 pm
extreme weather. mechanical engineer is in the line of fire. >> i'm standing in a windstorm at 45 mph. >> marie at a davidson is a biologist specializing in ecology and evolution. >> we're in the hydraulic lab where they brought the ocean inside. >> causing devastation around the world. coincidence or climate change. what is really going on. >> it is what happens that is it is unusual or a sign of what is to come. >> we look at how that impacts the seeding of clouds. >> can we weather the extremes? i'm phil torres. >> whether is the shirt you put
6:32 pm
on today, but climate is your word robe. today we're breaking out the rain clippers. >> that's our team. now let's do some science. [music] >> hey, welcome to "techknow." i'm phil torres, with global extremes. we're seeing the hot get hotter and the cold get colder, and it's hitting all corners of the u.s. >> it's a really challenging time. challenging and exciting to try to understand what these extreme weather patterns mean for our climate. >> and i got to look at the significant costs involved not just with the devastation caused by extreme weather but hidden causes. >> heat, drought, it's happening. let's take a look.
6:33 pm
>> oxnard, california, august 12, 2014. >> the weather team has been at it for ours. the storm was no surprise. scientists and technos cameras were tracking it. what meteorologists were calling the storm of the decade hit california with a vengeance. at the national weather service office in response to one of the worst winter storms to hit the state in a very long time. nine inches at once reported in napa valley. massive snow and minutes lake tahoe. flooding in los angeles. >> this is a chance for scientists to study in realtime the latest in a year of extreme
6:34 pm
weather events. >> this storm was with the storm of the decade classification. it was a very intense rainfall over a short time. >> the science and operations officers at los angeles county's national weather service. >> can you talk a little bit about these extreme weather events and their relationship to climate change? >> whether is the shirt that you put on today, but climate is your whole wardrobe. today we're bringing out the rain slickers. >> rains in extreme in flooding in bosnia and widespread drought to record snow in the united states. techno's shini somara picks up the story. >> november 17, 2014, in a video
6:35 pm
that went viral. this time lapse shows the impact of lake-effect snow as it moved into buffalo, new york. >> people were stranded on the highways, the interstate. >> nick louis, a professor of science at williams smith colleges in geneva, new york. >> i tell my students to imagine a bald top of the mountain. just a little push and that ball goes all the way the mountain. just a little push rices vigorously in the atmosphere and produces intense snow. >> it feels like weather is becoming extreme. >> a lot of research has shown that, as it will become the norm. >> does science suggest this is going to happen more and more. >> i think that's the reasonable inference from what we're seeing. >> when is extreme weather like
6:36 pm
buffalo's due to climate change, and when is it just plain wild weather. there is a new field called attribution science that tries to assess whether climate change played a role in these extreme weather events. take the extreme heat that caused wildfires in 2013. was it climate change? according to research published in the bulletin of the meteorological society, probably yes. and what about the winter of 2014, climate change or just wild weather? a study out of oxford university said that that event was probably climate change. california suffered through three years of debilitateing drought. was climate change to blame? probably not. california's drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state. natural weather trends are the
6:37 pm
primary factors. still, extremes are becoming the norm. 2014 will go down as the warmest year ever recorded worldwide. for climate scientists understanding why is evolving with every event. california's storm of the decade may, in fact, be tied to a recently observed phenomenon known as atmospheric rivers. >> atmospheric rivers are here to stay. it's chalk full of water vapors, strong winds, and is carrying ten times the water. >> it seems to be very severe weather phenomenon. >> well, there is a lot to learn in terms of atmosphereic rivers behave, and now dust particles can impact clouds over the ocean and over land. >> over the coast in san diego
6:38 pm
we got a lesson on how particles in the ocean interact with clouds and may hold the key. >> when we see the dust, when we see that present in the clouds we see lots of snowfall in the ground. >> dr. kimberly prather is a chemist at scripts institution of oceanography. we can see how dust and sea spray affect weather appearance. >> are you saying that aerosols impact weather ? >> if you're a polluted urban region, dirt and soothe are effect the rain that comes out that have cloud. >> understanding how these particles played a role .
6:39 pm
>> the choices that humans make are going to be the thing that determines how fast we can fix this problem. >> coming up on "techknow"," summing up tropical force wins. we want to hear what you think about these stories. join the conversation by following us on twitter and at www.aljazeera.com /techknow.
6:40 pm
6:41 pm
>> welcome back to techno. we're talking extreme weather defense. over the past year we've seen
6:42 pm
some big ones. >> the scientific community is tackling this head on, but there are a lot of economic consequences as well. when money is involved eyebrows raised. >> noaa said there were eighth weather events that cost over $1 billion and we i went to a lab that can stimulate that kind of devastation. let's take a look. >> in a concrete chamber, seven stories tall and big enough to hold nine football fields, they're making some of the most violent weather in america. >> tell me about in space. >> this is an unique facility, we call it mother nature in a box. we are really focused on extreme weather events.
6:43 pm
wind, water , fire, and hail. >> and it's all powered by the colossal fans. >> i'm standing in a tropical storm at 45 mph. and that's a breeze compared to category 1 1 hurricane where winds reach speeds of 70 mph. here a wall of fans can generate winds of 131 mph an hour. that's enough to blow down a house. >> what we do here is building by building combat. >> ceo of the insurance institute for business and home safety. and an industry-funded non-profit that recreates
6:44 pm
extreme weather conditions. but their goal is to change the way that the industry builds and how codes are written and enforced. >> our research is geared towards workable, practical solutions, public policymakers. we want to show people how to build, repair property better stronger against the worst that mother nature has to offer. >> what causes it and what is linked to extreme weather and insurance often foot the bill. >> we've seen $356 billion of insured losses from natural disasters between 2002 and 2013. we do know that storms are getting more intense in some places where people continue to move in vulnerable areas. >> over the past decade the extreme weather events for insure sures hurricanes
6:45 pm
$202 billion followed by thunderstorms, heat and drought, severe winter weather, wildfires and flash food. the costiest in recent u.s. history, 2005 hurricane katrina with $209 billion in losses. >> this is rather unprecedent because it's being steered back towards the u.s. coast. >> in second place, 2012's super storm sandy that tore the northeast with a 6 $66 billion price tag. and a recent report based on recent government statistics calculated that billion dollar-plus weather disasters are growing by 5% a year. and severe storms punk waited by shattering hailstorms up to 3,000 a year now costing
6:46 pm
$1 billion annually. >> when you think of really destructive weather, your mind does not jump to hail. >> hail is something that is always around. >> tanya brown on the hail engineering team designing the world's first hailstorms. >> we may not have huge fire or things like that, but we have hail every year. >> what do you use to simulate hail. >> we use water and fresh ice and create spheres and create ice stones that we can shoot with our canons. >> something like this would be 70 mph or so. >> that's hard. >> yes, they can cause a lot of damage, especially if you have a lot of these guys on your house. >> on the other side of the spectrum, wildfire. 2014 was a brutal season fueled by one of the worst droughts on record in the west and southwest.
6:47 pm
it's a major concern to the insurance industry because one out of every three homes is now built close enough to be devoured by flames. >> we're looking at the embers that travel a mile or more beyond the perimeter of the fire and land some place where there is no one watching, and then there is flame generation, flame contact and structures are lost. >> more fire retardant building materials and fewer openings for embers to fly in. >> some of the research conducted shows tiny design tweaks can really alter the outcome how a structure survives extreme weather. >> these are ring- shanked nails with ridges that will bite into the wood. if you were to take on a house
6:48 pm
from smooth nails to staple s to ring-changed nails you're making a huge difference for not a lot of cost. if we just got the roofs right in this country, just the roofs, we estimate we could save half of all insured property. >> do you think weather could become more extreme? >> i think with every passing year mother nature hands us another large data point. every data point that we get points us towards a different trend and a different definition of extreme. that's what we want to be prepared for. [music] >> coming up, climate scientists are investigating something that is a tiny but huge part of the climate buzzel.
6:49 pm
>> the uncertainty is how aerosols form clouds. >> coming up at
6:50 pm
6:51 pm
special report only on al jazeera america >> we're talking extreme weather here, and i think we all know that it goes beyond that five-day forecast that we're used to. it's very complex trying to get a grasp of how the weather works. >> it seems the more research we do, the more complex it seems to be. >> we've made a lot of progress in understanding how weather patterns work, but we're really scratching the surface in terms of understanding mechanisms and climate attorneys, and they're taking a look at how the ocean is
6:52 pm
driving weather. let's check it out. >> we have at more feeser rose in the bay area of california. >> december 11 2014, watching in realtime as a storm hits california. >> there is an extreme event focus and we can see how different sources of particles seeded the clouds and effected whether they rain, snowed or sat there. >> investigating something that is tiny, but a huge part of the climate buzz. >> well, the single largest uncertainty in climate changes is how aerosols effect clouds.
6:53 pm
we can see where these things are mixes and how this will lead to more prescription over california . >> we're in the wetland, and we're collecting rain samples, and use those samples to determine what seeded the cloud that made that rain. >> we try to go in and modify the properties of the cloud usually with the hopes of get morgue water out that have cloud. >> la jolla , cal, scientists here have been studying the ocean for over a hundred years to learn more about the complex issues impacting the environment. >> the ocean is responsible for a huge amount of clouds, so it's an important source. >> atmospheric chemists and her team are tackleing these complex issues head on . >> aerosol particles are these
6:54 pm
complicateed mixtures of everything, millions to billions of compounds. >> figuring out of the chemistry of what lies on the ocean surface impacts the cloud formation and two of the most challenging environmental un unknowns. >> each i'm it comes down that's a fingerprint of anothers particle. that's dust, that's sea spray. >> sea spray is one of many aerosols that researchers are studying. the aerosols float in the atmosphere in the mist we see when the waves crash along the shore. >> when i think of aerosol, i think of the spray camp type. >> different types of bacteria and micro organize isms when those break are in the air.
6:55 pm
the chemistry of what's in the seawater and what makes it out. some aerosols warm the planet, some cool the planet. >> leading researchers on climate and the environment, they were the first to develop new ways of looking at the problem. >> as we improve our models of climate, we can improve our understanding whether or not we're likely to get extreme whether. every 20 minutes those pumps turn on, and they pump a large amount of water out of the ocean, and we have a peace of it here. >> we're in the hydraulic lab and they brought the ocean inside. this mimics the way waves break and create sea spray and helps us to understand how it influences our climate. >> we measure the waves and the properties of the waves here and
6:56 pm
we make sure that they're the same. >> the flume holds 56,000 gallons of water pumped in from the pacific. a hydraulic paddle sends waves down the flume where they hit a board and crash . oceanographer grant dean oversees operations in the wave lab. >> you're focusing on this thin little later on the surface. >> the inter face between the air and the water. and there is special chemistry that goes on as well. >> since the ocean is 71% of the earth surface, sea spray is one of the largest sources of aerosol . >> aerosol is made by bubbles. we've measured the bubbles to reproduce that natural process. >> we fill this tank with seawater. we turn the voltage on and we make bubbles. >> a staff
6:57 pm
associate at scripps. >> we're trying to generate bubbles of a known size. we sample them out of this tube. in the ocean we have a range of temperatures from the arctic to antarctic, and so if the temperature matters then we're going to change the shroud seeding properties. that has an affect on our global weather appearance. >> they hope that data will improve weather models to improve problems ranging from drought to severe storms. >> we'll take the results we learn here to do a better job of predicting our weather. weather and climate is not the same thing. weather is a day-to-day basis. climate is what we experience over a decade.
6:58 pm
>> this will be a huge affect on our ability to understand what temperatures we're going to be facing in the future. >> it seems time and time again we look at these different disciplines of science. when we exploit the earth we have little awareness of the type of impact we're having. how little do we know? >> we're just discovering that that tap millimeter of the motion surface potentially is driving a huge part of our weather system. >> that seems to be an incredible new way of looking at the planet. >> it blew my mind. i'm a biologist, so i should know these things, but it completely blew my mind to think of all those micro organisms producing these tiny particles that are seeding clouds that are driving weather and in a broader scale driving climate. >> does that mean that everything that we've studied, researched and inincluded is invalid? >> no.
6:59 pm
we need to look at this is another piece of the puzzle. another piece of information that we can insert and use in climate modeling to understand how this very complex, dynamic system works. >> they say they can't control the weather, but with what we've learned we're getting closer to understanding how predict it. that's it for this episode of techno. check us out next time as we bring you more science and innovations from the field. >> go to www.aljazeera.com /techknow. follow our expert contributers on twitter, facebook and instagram, plus more. >> monday. the fastest internet in the country. >> it's the next generation internet. >> but why isn't it in your town? >> our internet's half the speed of dial-up. >> could big cable be controlling your access to the web? >> it's not even gonna play.
7:00 pm
>> your right to access >> i'm standing in a tropical wind storm. >> can affect and surprise us. >> wow! some of these are amazing. >> "techknow", where technology meets humanity. monday, 6:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> this is aljazeera america live from new york city. i'm lisa fletcher, and tony harris has the night off. >> this law is working and it's going to keep doing just that. >> a huge healthcare victory for the president but one justice called today's supreme court decision interpretive jigry. and then the fallout. outrage over the ruling for republicans running for president. and the civil rights decision from the justices. they